Sunday, October 09, 2016

Jim Justice, W.Va. gubernatorial nominee and coal billionaire, owes $15 million in six states

Jim Justice, billionaire owner of Southern Coal Corp. and the Democratic nominee for governor of West Virginia, owes $15 million in taxes and fines in six states, making him the nation's top mine-safety delinquent, Howard Berkes reports for NPR. Justice owes for property and minerals taxes, state coal severance and withholding taxes, federal income, excise and unemployment taxes and safety violations. (NPR graphic: Fines Southern Coal owes by state; click on chart for larger version)
Justice owes $4.71 million in the state where he could be elected governor next month, and $6.81 million in Kentucky. State campaign finance records show that "in the past 16 months, while fines and taxes went unpaid, Justice personally contributed nearly $2.9 million in interest-free loans and in-kind contributions to his gubernatorial campaign," Berkes writes.

In addition to the fines, Southern Coal mines had injury rates nearly twice the national average during years that penalties went unpaid, Berkes reportsMine Safety and Health Administration data also shows "that those mines were cited for 3,657 violations while they were delinquent, including 699 violations that are classified by MSHA as factors in mine fatalities, fatal mine accidents and major disasters. MSHA mine inspectors issued dozens of citations for excessive coal dust, which can feed mine explosions, and roof and wall violations, which can lead to mine collapses." (Injury rates at Southern Coal's delinquent mines)
Southern Coal recently agreed to pay $900,000 to settle water-pollution violations in Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

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